As part of its announcement of G Suite’s rebranding to Google Workspace, Google introduced a new visual identity and five redesigned icons for some of its popular services: Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, and Meet. The icons, as you can see them above, are similar to what we’ve come to expect from Google — and perhaps a little too similar at that.
In most cases, these five new icons shed their previous single tones and adopt the four colors of the Google logo: red, blue, green, and yellow. Of the five, Drive is the least changed one, with rounded corners and an added splash of red. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Calendar received the biggest modification and is now a flat square with no flip action to embody a physical calendar.
You can see the existing (left) and upcoming (right) icons in the comparisons below. Keep in mind, though, that the new Docs icon appears to be the same for all documents (text, slides, spreadsheets, forms).
What’s most striking about the change is how homogeneous all these new icons are. Aside from their shape, there’s no clear visual differentiation between them. While this plays a role in keeping a clear brand identity across different services and apps, it’s obviously a few steps too far in that direction. Picture all of these icons on a white circle or square on your phone’s homescreen or in your app drawer, and you can see it’ll take a bit more time to find the one you want. You’ll have to focus on the shape or read the app name to pick that among a dozen similar ones, keeping in mind that Google Home, One, Podcasts, Maps, Assistant, and others already follow this same pattern.
When we asked Google for a bit more design consistency, we were hoping for a more uniform approach to the user experience, instead of the mish-mash of app drawers (or not), account switchers, bottom tabs (or not), gestures, settings screens, and other irregularities across multiple apps. We obviously didn’t mean for app icons to have the same colors and pieces re-arranged into different shapes and virtually indistinguishable from each other.
Google has only introduced these new icons as part of its Workspace design, so we don’t yet know if they’ll be adopted for the consumer-facing services as well. We’ve reached out to the company to confirm that, though we find it difficult to believe that distinct icons would be used for the same service across two accounts. You only have one Gmail icon in your app drawer, and if that’s getting redesigned for business and education users, common sense says it’ll be redesigned for personal accounts as well.
Google confirms these new icons will come to consumer products
A Google spokesperson told us: “The new icons will appear to all users spanning across consumer, business, education, and nonprofit beginning 10/6 in a phased rollout. In short, yes, these new app icons will also come to the corresponding consumer apps.”